Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in Europe today; it is already the second religion in Europe. There are at least thirteen million Muslims living in this area ranging from Portugal to Finland and from Ireland to Bulgaria. The sociological entity of these Muslims is very heterogeneous. On the one hand, European Muslims are from various origins: from Asia, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. On the other hand, Islam is characterized by the fragmentation of its beliefs and some people with a Muslim background are atheistic. Moreover, a huge majority of them have an immigrant background. Indeed, Muslims began to immigrate to Europe in large number after the Second World War so as to participate to the rebuilt of the war aftermath and also to the need of semiskilled and unskilled workers because of the economic boom. In the early 1970's with the economic recession, European countries gradually closed their borders. Although there were tougher laws limiting immigration, a second wave of immigration as family members occurred and it was precisely at that time that the status of Muslim people changed.
[...] Muslims' religious needs in the educational field are treated differently in both countries. A good example of this difference of treatment is allowance for Muslim girls to wear Islamic headscarves or not. In France, this subject is the root of a long politico-cultural war known as the "veil affair". The first affair arose in 1989 when the principal of a public junior high school suspended three Muslim students for refusing to remove their hijab at school according to the French principle of laïcité. [...]
[...] Although Britain is very liberal in its conception of the freedom of the people, it is less concerning the recognition of groups in a multicultural society and education. Indeed, British ideology promotes the constitution of ethnic and religious groups with their particular features and traditions and organizes their relationships. Such an ideology does not correspond at all with the French Republicanism which influences politics at almost all the levels of the society. This "national spirit" comes directly from the Enlightenment of the 18th century. [...]
[...] They are relevant because these countries have the most important percentages of Muslims in their population and a high level of secularization of the society; they are relevant because they both had colonies and knew waves of immigration of Muslims people from these colonies especially after the Second World War. What is more, they both have to face political controversies around issues of Muslims religious rights. These issues have been partly crystallized on the states educational systems. Different political responses have been given by France and Great Britain to Muslims' religious and cultural claims related to schools. [...]
[...] Nielsen, Religion and citizenship in Europe and in the Arab World, Grey Seal ▪BLEICH Erik, From International Ideas to Domestic Politics: Educational Multiculturalism in France and Great Britain, in Comparative Politics ▪BOWEN John, Why the French don't like Headscarves: Islam, the State and Public Space, Princeton University Press ▪FAVELL Adrian, Philosophies of Integration: Immigration and the Idea of Citizenship in France and Britain, MacMillan ▪FETZER & SOPER, Muslims and the State in Britain, France and Germany, Cambridge University Press ▪HAARSCHER Guy, La laïcité, PUF ▪HALSTEAD J. [...]
[...] For example, in Bradford percent of the population is Muslim and there is an effective organization that successfully negotiates with the local government about Muslims' needs in the society and the educational field. British Muslim organizations widely participate in the local decision process about religious education for example. On the contrary, at the national scale, the British Muslim community is so fragmented and diversified that they are less organized. However, there are some Muslim representatives like Lord Ahmed or the major of Manchester Mohammed Afzal Khan. [...]
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